A city of Bloomington official is trying to raise awareness of domestic violence among Latinos.
Bloomington Latino Outreach Assistant Daniel Soto presented a plan Friday to combat domestic violence before the Monroe County Domestic Violence Task Force. He says many domestic violence cases among immigrants often go unreported because the abused are worried they will be forced to leave the United States.
“A case of violence could mean deportation; you could lose your rights,” Soto said. “And so that’s what they’re afraid of – their husband or the father of their children will go through. And that’s the fear. The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office started an outreach program in 2010 with the specific intent of encouraging Latina victims of domestic violence cases to come forward.”
And County Prosecutor Chris Gaal recently hired a native Spanish-speaking victim assistant solely dedicated to working with domestic violence cases.
“Don’t be afraid to report domestic violence; our interest is in your safety, not your immigration status,” Gaal said. “We don’t want that to be a barrier because if there is a crime occurring, we want to do something about it.”
Gaal says undocumented, abused Latinas may be eligible for protection via the U-Visa. The visa grants crime victims temporary legal status while government officials pursue action against abusers.